RTD Transit Users – Make Your Voices Heard!

RTD is requesting public input on a proposed service plan for US 36 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) between Boulder and Denver, which will be implemented in early 2016 – and on the results of their Fare Study to restructure fares District-wide.

Per our annual member survey data we know that over 80% of eGo CarShare members use the RTD transit system on a regular basis, so we encourage you to stay informed about RTD’s proposed service and fare changes which would take effect January 1, 2016. To get involved please review the info and links below and then ATTEND one of the upcoming public meetings throughout the Metro area to make your voice heard. NOW is the time to give your input to RTD about this important and impactful issue. Having an affordable, robust, and equitable transit system is essential to meeting our community’s sustainability and equity goals.

We applaud RTD for listening to, and incorporating, public input into this process. RTD staff and board members ARE listening, so it’s up to us to make our voices heard so they will know how the fares should be structured to best meet the needs of ALL riders. We should all recognize that fares will need to be set within the context of certain fiscal constraints to ensure RTD remains financially solvent, but your input will help ensure that RTD’s new fare structure and pricing will meet the public’s needs.

We strongly encourage you to attend a public hearing, but if you can’t make it to any of the meeting dates you can submit written comments about these issues to RTD. Send an e-mail (by April 8, 2015) to service.changes@rtd-denver.com, and also Cc your RTD Director. Don’t know who your RTD representative is? Lookup your Director here.

2016 Proposed Fare Changes

Fare Changes Public Meetings (partial list):

Denver: Wed, March 25 at Noon, and Wed, April 8 at 6:30pm, RTD Offices, 1600 Blake Street

Longmont: Wed, April 1 at 6:30pm, Longmont Public Library

Boulder: Monday, April 6 at 6 p.m., Boulder Public Library

Check the complete list of public meetings to find the one nearest you.

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Primary Concerns/Recommendations:

Concern: The proposed changes to both the fare structure and fees are very significant and therefore are worthy of careful contemplation. Currently RTD staff have set a very aggressive timeline to make it through this public input process. Public input sessions end on April 8th, and the RTD board is slated to vote on whether or not to adopt the staff recommendations on April 21st. Eight (8) business days is not enough time to allow staff to thoughtfully consolidate and reflect upon the input they will receive during all 16 fare study public hearings.

Recommendation: Ask RTD to take at least one more month to thoughtfully consider and incorporate all public input they receive throughout March and April before they present their final proposal to the RTD board.

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Concern: Significant fare increases (10-32%) will make transit unaffordable for many low-income riders.

Recommendation: Offer a 50% discounted fare for riders with incomes of $35,000 or less. Check out the novel affordable fare program Seattle (King County) just instituted!

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Concern: Currently the monthly Local Pass price is $79; RTD is proposing to increase it to $104 – this is a 32% increase! 53% of weekday bus passengers are “transit dependent” due to not owning a vehicle (because of having a mental or physical disability that prevented operating a vehicle, or not having a valid driver’s license). Meanwhile only 25% of light rail riders are “transit dependent” and RTD is proposing to decrease the majority of light rail fares by 35-48%. These proposed changes raise very significant equity concerns. Low-income riders will be hit much harder by these proposed fare increases than mid-to-high income riders.

Recommendation: Institute a 50% discounted fare for low-income riders and keep the monthly pass fare increases in step with the other fare increases. To keep them at a 12% increase they should be priced at:

                                         Local = $88; Express = $153; Regional = $187.

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Concern: RTD is still working on getting their SmartCard system to be fully functional. Without functions such as “accumulator” functionality, the boarding and payment process will be very time intensive and prone to error.

Recommendation: Ask RTD to prioritize the effort to make their SmartCards smart! Advances in their SmartCard and Prepaid fare card system would solve a lot of issues. It would significantly cut down on boarding times as it would eliminate the need for prepaid card users to be issued a “Day Pass” from the driver when they board, and it would reduce the chances of riders being overcharged for trips. Ask RTD to make technology improvements a priority now so the SmartCard technology is fully functional as of January 1, 2016 – when the fare changes go into effect.

 


Proposed US 36 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Service Plan Meetings:

Boulder: Monday, March 16 at 6 p.m., Boulder Public Library

Denver: Monday, April 13 at Noon, RTD Offices, 1600 Blake Street

Click here for a complete list of meetings about the US 36 BRT.

 

Highlights about the US 36 BRT “Flatiron Flyer” proposed service plan:

What we like about RTD’s current proposal:

  • Offering the BV (All-Station stops route) at a local $2.60 fare. The Express route (with minimal stops) would be $5.50 one-way.
  • Increased frequency of 15-minute All-Station service mid-day and 10-minute Express route frequency during peak commute times.

The City of Boulder, in partnership with the US 36 Mayors and Commissioners Coalition (MCC) and 36 Commuting Solutions, has reviewed RTD’s proposed changes and has provided their recommendations.

Summary Concerns/Recommendations:

Concerns:

  • The US 36 corridor is not receiving an equitable share of FasTracks investment dollars. Disproportionately more funding is being spent on other FasTracks corridors.
  • The US 36 Bus Rapid Transit service plan includes reductions in trip frequency and the elimination of some existing service in Boulder.
  • As currently proposed, Mid-day Express service between Downtown Boulder and Denver Union Station would be eliminated. Additionally the Express route would not make stops along the CU campus in Boulder, thus requiring CU riders to make a transfer in order to travel between CU and Denver. The Express “Flatiron Flyer” bus to and from Denver (as currently proposed) would only stop at the Transit Center and Table Mesa.
  • The new buses serving the US 36 corridor will carry fewer bicycles.

Recommendations:

  • We believe the corridor deserves operational support from RTD similar to the FasTracks funded light rail corridors in Denver, especially given the substantial level of public investment in the managed lanes.
  • Retain mid-day Express service along the corridor and include stops at CU and the Hill. In particular an Express route stop should be included on Broadway at 16th Street, as that stop was specifically enlarged a few years ago as part of the City’s “FasTracks Local Optimization” initiative to make room for the additional (and larger) BRT vehicles.
  • Incorporate other recommendations provided by the US 36 MCC and 36 Commuting Solutions.
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